I have been very pleased by the response to my post yesterday entitled “Where Have All the Good Blogs Gone?“, which tried to offer some optimism after the recently announced closures of two well-known genre sites, SF Signal and My Bookish Ways. Pleased not just because this has been the most popular post on my site for months (and any blogger is happy about getting more traffic), but because of the genre community’s response in itself.
The imminent end of those two sites is clearly a sad event for many people (as it is for me), but also evidently a worrying one. If a long-standing multi-person site like SF Signal is closing because the founders, JP Frantz and John DeNardo – who have been through every up-and-down in SFF blogging for more than ten years – can no longer balance work on the site with family, day job and real life, how much chance do the rest of us have?
The related traffic on social media these last few days shows that old concerns are back, or never really went away. Does our future only hold big corporate sites on one side and Amazon reviews on the other? Is there still a place for independent criticism in science fiction and fantasy? Will we ever be able to make a cent at this?
In my own small way, I found myself living out a lot of these concerns at the same time as my hopeful post was doing the rounds these last few days. Followers of my site might remember that I had to move from Italy to Ireland in July last year to take up a very demanding day job. My blogging activity fell away immediately – a familiar situation not just for work exiles like me, but for anyone who has to make a living ouside literature.
The day before I published “Where Have All the Good Blogs Gone?“, I arrived back in Italy for my first days off in ten months. That explains the remarkable fact that I am posting on two consecutive days, which hasn’t happened for a long time. I stepped in the apartment, saw my library (in the photo) and – aaaahhhh – “Home again, home again, jiggety-jig. Gooood eee-vening, S.C.!” That smell of hundreds of books warmed by the Italian sun would be a pleasure for any bibliophile. I have decided to expand my library – the books I brought back from Ireland made that a necessity. How I will find the space is another thing, but it was just great seeing all my old paper friends again.
Instead of just lying around, taking it in, though, I jumped straight onto posting, because the topic was hotter than my mother-in-law’s lasagne and my people – you, the SFF community – were concerned, and I wanted to try and offer some consolation. This resulted in my sitting in front of the computer till after midnight, while my wife asked every couple of seconds why I was spending my first day off depriving myself of her mother’s company, while doing something that had never brought in a cent and never would. There – that’s the blogging experience, isn’t it?
As I said, my post provoked a good response. The next day, I spent hours on my not-so-smartphone responding to comments and suggestions for blogs to add to my list and correcting errors in the links, while my wife went off to spend the money I wasn’t earning by all this activity. That’s the blogging life we love, too, isn’t it? Long may it continue – I am sure it will, and I am glad that many others seem to think so as well.
Later the same day (today), I had proof of that. Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues, one of the best genre bloggers around, launched a new site called Our Words, dedicated to disabilities in genre fiction. This is a continuation of the work Sarah has been doing for years in a column for SF Signal and I am sure it will be successful. As one door closes, another one opens… .